On a soft summer night in Vermont, twelve-year-old Lisa went into the woods behind her house and never came out again. Before she disappeared, she told her little brother, Sam, about a door that led to a magical place where she would meet the King of the Fairies and become his queen.
Fifteen years later, Phoebe is in love with Sam, a practical, sensible man who doesn’t fear the dark and doesn’t have bad dreams—who, in fact, helps Phoebe ignore her own. But suddenly the couple is faced with a series of eerie, unexplained occurrences that challenge Sam’s hardheaded, realistic view of the world. As they question their reality, a terrible promise Sam made years ago is revealed—a promise that could destroy them all.
From the first moment I heard of this book I was intrigued. It seemed like a fairy tale for grown-ups. I was finally able to read it over the weekend and completely devoured it.
The chapters alternate between Pheobe (present day) and Lisa (fifteen years ago) which I thought was neat, particularly how the events relate and intertwine. I will admit I wasn’t expecting such a dark story (don’t pick this book up thinking you’re in for a light-hearted tale). It’s not often I come across a book that I will happily sacrifice sleep for, but Don’t Breathe a Word was one. Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a baby and the trapdoor-under-the-bed/shadow-figures-in-the-corner seemed all too real in the middle of the night.
When I read mysteries, I love trying to see if I can figure out Who Did It. I had my suspects, but in the end, I couldn’t have been more wrong. (I was a little disappointed with the big reveal. It just didn’t seem fair for readers playing along at home.)
Even though I absolutely loved Don’t Breathe a Word, I still have lingering questions that were not answered.
Glancing at the rest of Ms. McMahon’s books, it seems the covers are all very similar: close-up of a girl’s face. A bit uninspired, yes, but this one was perfect. The girl on the cover of this book was Lisa in my eyes. She looks every bit the part of a girl who wanted to be whisked away by the King of the Fairies.
Abby Cooper’s betting the house on her inner eye...
It took a while for Abby Cooper’s FBI agent boyfriend, Dutch Rivers, to accept her psychic gifts as the real deal. But these days he knows better than to question Abby’s visions. So when his favorite cousin Chase is kidnapped in Vegas, they both catch the next flight to Sin City. Abby’s inner eye insists that Chase is still alive, but nothing else about the case adds up—especially Dutch’s reluctance to involve his own Bureau.
On top of everything, Dutch is battling a mysterious illness, and Abby keeps having disturbing dreams that predict his death. Dutch wants Abby to promise that if the investigation goes south, she’ll head home to safety. But when the chips are down, Abby won’t fold without a fight...
I adore this series. At the beginning of the year, I made it a goal of mine to step out of my comfort zone and read some authors/genres I hadn't before. Through some book-hopping at goodreads, I discovered a whole new world in cozy mysteries. They are so ridiculous and fun and completely unlike anything I had ever read! While there were some brain fluff books I enjoyed, I would only read ~true literature~ and unfortunately missed out on so, so much. :) I'm so glad I decided to broaden my reading this year.
This series follows Abby Cooper, a professional psychic. The first four books worked as stand-alone novels; you could have started with book 3 and not be lost. Anything important is explained repeatedly (sometimes this becomes a little grating, particularly when you're halfway through the series and the author still insists on reminding you of Abby's dog's name/why he was named that). The fifth book, Crime Seen & this book however, are connected. Parts one and two if you will.
In Crime Seen Dutch begins to investigate a cold case involving a superior. Death Perception gets to the heart of the action and Abby finds herself in Las Vegas.
Although it was nice to have some sense of continuity, I miss the silly antics of the earlier books - the mafia dons, the haunted houses, it was all light and fun.
I'm far less judgmental when it comes to cozy mysteries than I am regarding other genres. These books aren't aiming to be anything other than fluff. That said, few things put me off more than a long-winded spiel from the villain detailing every last part of the plan. I. Hate. That. During the big reveal, the Bad Guy goes on for a few pages explaining absolutely everything!
Also, it just now dawned on me that the covers for this series are totally wrong. Multiple times it's been mentioned that Abby has waist-length hair..
Despite a few minor issues, I still enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next!(less)
I could simply say drop whatever you're doing and read this book. Now. That wouldn't do it justice, though. This is the kind of story that needs to be discussed, demands to be gushed over, and ultimately stays with you long after you've finished those last words.
It is traditional to end with the Last Girl, the sole survivor, a young woman in a blood-spattered tank top. She drops her chain saw, her sawed-off shotgun, her crowbar - these details differ - and stumbles out of the ramshackle house and into the light. Perhaps the house is burning. Dawn glows on the horizon, and the ghouls have been defeated (for now, for now - all happy endings being temporary). Perhaps she's found by her fellow survivors and taken to an enclave, a fortress teeming with heavily armed government troops, or at the very least gun-toting civilians, who will provide shelter until the sequel. Perhaps this enclave is located in Easterly, Iowa, about sixty miles northwest of the ruins of Des Moines. Perhaps the girl's name is Ruby.
So begins our story. To say this is a zombie story would feel like a lie. Yes, the main character is a zombie and, yes, there was a zombie outbreak. However, Raising Stony Mayhall is so much more than a horror novel. There is an unassuming elegance in Mr. Gregory's writing and it's clear he carefully deliberated over each word. There were countless passages where I lost myself in the imagery and forgot I was reading what was being put forth as a run-of-the-mill zombie tale.
There are few gorey scenes. There really is nothing in-your-face about Raising Stony Mayhall. It’s so much more than yet another book cashing in on a popular trend: it’s a story about family and to what lengths we go to protect those we cherish. Don’t expect a Lifetime movie though. Thankfully, it’s not quite that sappy.
Are you sleeping, Are you sleeping, Brother John?
The story opens in Easterly, Iowa in the winter of 1968. (The prologue was set in the present day, 2011.) On both coasts there has been a zombie outbreak and what's left of civilization is trying to pick up the pieces and attempt to return to some sense of normalcy.
Wanda Mayhall is a widowed mother of three girls: Alice, Chelsea, and Junie. One night while heading back to their farm, they come across the body of a young woman barely out of her teens. There's no hope of saving the woman, but Wanda is unable to leave behind of body of the newborn discovered in the woman's arms.
"We should call him Gray," Chelsea said. "He's not a cat," Alice said. "We shouldn't name him anything." "We'll call him John," Wanda said, surprising herself again. "That's it?" Alice said. "John?" "Brother John," Chelsea said. The boy looked up at them. Then he blinked. He hadn't blinked before. "A boy like this," Wanda said, "is going to need a normal name."
Despite all evidence that the boy is dead - no pulse, he's not breathing, his skin is grey & cold - he soon begins to move. At first it's just a twitch of an arm. Then his eyes open. His chest heaves.
They just rescued an undead. An undead baby, at that.
The Mayhalls live on a fairly secluded piece of land with only one other house in viewing range. The Chos are a Korean family who had moved out west with dreams of farming, only to fall back on a mechanic business. The Chos have a 5-year old son, Kwang, and shortly after meeting John, the two become inseparable. Stony - the name given to him by Kwang - grows as Kwang grows. He ages he Kwang ages.
Despite being taken into a loving family, a series of extremely strict rules have been set in place for Stony. He's never allowed outside, he is never to walk past the windows, any friends (and as they grow, boyfriends) of his sisters are never allowed over, and school is completely out of the question. Instead, Mrs. Cho homeschools Stony and later he educates himself with the aid of his sisters' textbooks.
For the first time in his life, Stony felt it. It ran like a hot wire, up from his spine, to the base of his skull. His mouth opened on its own. He wanted to bite. He wanted to bite hard.
With each page, I grew to care more and more for Stony. He's not the quintessential zombie that everyone immediately thinks of: moaning, shambling along oh-so-slowly, viciously attacking any living being. However, in a sense, he is: super-human strength, no pain whatsoever, he requires no sleep or food, physical exercise doesn't tire him. He is virtually indestructible.
Seeing things through Stony's eyes, knowing his thoughts and feelings, it's easy to forget that, technically, he is a monster. Mr. Gregory is wonderful at allowing the reader to settle into a period of comfort, only to bring to light the horror of the situation. And what a quiet horror it is. It silently sneaks up on you, greeting you around the corner. The climax was so eloquently written I felt as though I was in the middle of a zombie outbreak. I panicked when the zombies were in the stairwell. A flash of terror ripped through me with the lone zombie calmly ambling down the road while the policemen stood waiting.
Stony looked up. Calhoun was staring at him, hollow-eyed. His skin was glossy, his teeth perfectly white, but his eyes were ancient and terrified. Calhoun was more afraid of death than anyone he'd ever met. While so many LDs were becoming sleepers, throwing themselves into the abyss, Calhoun was doing everything in his power to pave over it, seal it up. He was going to the stars, damn it. He was going to be immortal.
I loved how the book progressed through the decades. The novel occurs between 1968 and 2011. When Stony is a teenager, something happens that changes his life forever. He lives the majority of his adult life on the run (what part isn't spent in hiding).
It was this part of the book that didn't grip me as the beginning did. There are new characters involved (one still rubs me the wrong way) along with some sub-plots that weren't entirely clear. I longed for Stony to return to being a 5-year old on the farm.
The mailman reached the fence, planted two hands, and vaulted over without breaking stride. The move looked so practiced that Stony wondered if he'd learned it in postal school. Advanced Canine Escape Techniques.
Mr. Gregory has a deliciously wicked sense of humor. I'd never hail Raising Stony Mayhall as a comedy or as a wacky, zany story because it certainly isn't. That said, there are plenty of great one-liners and witty quips that brought a smile to my face and made me giggle.
Thanks to Romero's endlessly replayed documentary of the outbreak, everyone thought the living dead shuffled around like geriatric patients. But those were the fevered dead, brain-damaged and confused, at the mercy of recalcitrant limbs jerking to their own rhythm. After the fever passed, a sane LD only had to tell the muscles to move, and they moved. Jump, and they jumped. Free will, or its compelling illusion, was restored.
No zombie tale is complete without a shout-out to Night of the Living Dead. I wonder if Raising Stony Mayhall wasn't supposed to be a sequel or a spin-off of some sort. NofLD premiered October 1, 1968...which was when the original outbreak occurred in Raising Stony Mayhall. Also, NotLD takes place in Pennsylvania (in the area where I live, which is pretty awesome), and Stony discovers his birth mother was from Evans City, PA.
The more I think about this, the more I wonder if this wasn't the case. And if so, this book just became all the more incredible.
All LDs were going to hell in an inescapable handbasket. The graveborn said they understood more because they'd gotten closer to the other side than anyone - they had a better idea of what was spiritually at stake. The bitten LDs argued that they'd all died, and the graveborn were putting on airs.
I could ramble on and on about how much I loved this book. June seemed like an odd time for release, but I suppose since Raising Stony Mayhall isn't your typical zombie novel, it wouldn't receive an expected Halloween publication date.
Prior to writing this review I had a massive list of quotes and lines and entire paragraphs I loved enough to write down. Mr. Gregory's style is so effortless and beautiful. I will definitely be hunting down his other works.
I highly, highly recommend Raising Stony Mayhall, even for those of you who aren't normally into zombie books (I know I'm not). You won't be disappointed!
The fevered dead didn't attack animals, or invade butcher shops. They craved human meat, human and nothing but, as if taking revenge for being kicked out of their former species. The Payback Diet.
Heading into Royal Street, I was a little hesitant: Hurricane Katrina is still fresh in Americans' minds and I was nervous to see how the author would handle using a devastated New Orleans as a backdrop.
Drusilla Jaco - DJ, thank you very much - is a wizard in the order of Green Congress and her specialty is emphatic magic. She has the ability to take on the feelings and emotions of those surrounding her. Given she's in the heart of post-Katrina New Orleans, her ability is so not enviable.
I had read a few reviews saying Royal Street was boring. I found the opposite to be true: I was excited to read this book. The plot progressed at a wonderful pace with just enough action thrown in before the Big Fight to make me eager for more.
The characters were great. I'm normally not a reader of Paranormal/Urban series, but I do know a lot of the heroines tend to be tough-as-nails, kick-butt sort of girls. Not so in DJ's case. She's barely able to cast the weakest of spells before losing energy, but her faults made me enjoy her character and truly care about her. Jake and Alex, cousins and possible love-interests, were an absolute joy to read. In fact, I liked their characters so much, I'm torn on who to root for (& typically I'm not a fan of love triangles).
Alex is part-FBI, part-shapeshifter, whereas Jake is a regular ol' human. Alex is a hulking, monosyllabic brute, while Jake is a sweet, wounded Marine. Throughout the story, they both grow and it's so wonderful seeing more sides to their characters.
As much as I enjoyed Royal Street, it does come with a few faults of its own. I'm still a little confused about the castes. Green Congress wizards are weaker than Red, but stronger than Yellow? I truly have no idea. I do know each comes with a different set of abilities and strengths, but apart from that, not much detail was given. As with any series involving a magical system, explanations are an absolute necessity.
Royal Street is a strong debut and I'll definitely be picking up the next book in the series. Also, any book where an undead Louis Armstrong is a spy is one worth reading.(less)
Before I get into the review, it should be said that I hold Edgar Allan Poe to a ridiculously high degree. I was first introduced to him when I was in 3rd grade and since then, I have placed him atop a pedestal. He is directly responsible for my career goals and I do a great deal of what I do because of him and the effect both he and his writing have had on me. Apart from a trip to Gettysburg, the best vacation I ever took was a birthday trip to Baltimore where I visited his house and both of his graves. So awesome.
Because of this, anything that so much as references Poe (be it movie, song, book, etc) I feel compelled to seek it out. Nevermore was no different. I was a little hesitant once I read the summary - goth boy and preppy cheerleader are paired together for a project and ~sparks fly~? Please. It seems like that's a trend in YA right now. However, I hunkered down and gave it a shot.
Once you get past the writing - and a good portion of it is awful: far too flowery and descriptive - it's a pretty intriguing story. Varen (lol it seriously took me until 10 pages from the end to realize his name spelled Raven... yeah.) was by far my favorite character. He's the brooding, antisocial boy who doesn't speak to anyone and is a target for rumors. Isobel is the uber popular (& blonde!) cheerleader who has the football star boyfriend and perfect friends. The two are partnered up for an English project and that's when the story lost me.
Isobel's best friend Nikki immediately freaks out when she finds out Isobel's partner is Varen and insists on telling Brad (the boyfriend). Isobel then freaks out herself and insists that Brad must not find out and makes Nikki promise not to say a word to him. Nikki (oh so clever girl that she is) runs off to tell her own friend instead, who then, in turn, tells Brad.
Brad reasonably flies off the handle and begins making threats toward Varen, keys his car, even goes to far as to have the group visit Varen at work (an ice cream parlor) and completely trash it.
...all of this over an English project. I hope I wasn't the only one utterly confused and frustrated at this. I couldn't understand what the problem was. Isobel would even go out of her way to lie and make excuses so that her friends wouldn't find out she had been doing her homework.
Eventually Isobel comes to her senses and ditches her horrible friends and then we comes to the paranormal aspect of the book. There's another world based on Poe's tales. Poe himself was transported to this place multiple times and it eventually destroyed him. I looked forward to these chapters even though the writing was the most painful during these chapters, simply because I didn't have to deal with Isobel's terrible friends anymore.
The climactic fight scene at the end dragged on and on which frustrated me to no end. That should be the one part of the book I should have not been able to put down! Instead, I had to struggle to get through it (& succumbed to skimming a bit).
The Nocs, particularly Pinfeathers, were interesting! Isobel's little brother was awesome! I can't wait for more Varen (& it's such a shame he didn't get more time in the spotlight. There were some things that happened to him that I definitely wanted to find out more about - the scene with his father, for instance). I'm still not sure what to think of Isobel's dad. I thought it was so cool that Reynolds was a character!
Despite the horrible writing, I really enjoyed this book and of course I'll be continuing this series. Yay, Poe!(less)
I feel like I missed something everyone else didn't. One of my biggest guilty pleasure is the preppy girl/goth boy trope (Nevermore, I'm looking at you ♥!). The Ghost and the Goth had been sitting in my To Read pile for ages and I finally had had enough. I was so certain I would love it: it seemed fun and fluffy & I was really surprised by the length!
Unfortunately, I didn't even finish the book. The main character, Alona Dare, irked me instantly. From the very first page I couldn't stand that girl. In the beginning of the book she rambled on and on about how being popular was so important and how it was something she'd been working on attaining (and maintaining) her entire schooling career. Quite frankly, I was happy she was run over by a bus.
Apart from Alona, the other problem I had with the novel was the alternating perspectives. I've read some books (The Forgotten Garden, for example) that executed dual narratives flawlessly. The Ghost and the Goth, however, didn't work for me. When the book switched to Will's POV for the first time, I was actually a little confused. I hadn't realized the story was now taking place from Will's perspective.
This book has garnered some really wonderful reviews and I'm pretty disappointed I couldn't join in with the praise.(less)
Oh, Abby Cooper, I've missed you so!! When I read a series, I tend to space out each book rather than reading it all at once. I suppose it's my way of savoring it? It's been a few months since I finished the sixth book in this series, Death Perception, and I couldn't wait to jump back into the story.
This book picks up with a case that was first introduced in the previous book, but went nowhere. Abby, a professional psychic, and her friend Candice, a PI, are aiding the FBI in the investigation of some missing teenagers. It's believed the kidnappings are linked because the teens were all children of senators.
Given that this book didn't take place in Abby's hometown, some of the best characters were unfortunately absent this time. In the case of Abby's older sister Cat, there was a brief mention in a single sentence and that was all. However, I was really excited to learn more about Candice. She was a central character in Doom With a View and I love that she's getting more and more time in the spotlight.
Abby's boyfriend Dutch works for the FBI (what a cool job!!). He recently got the position and now we get to meet some really awesome characters. Despite being a huge jerk for roughly 99% of the book, Agent Harrison grew on me. Can't wait to see him again! However, I will admit I was a little disappointed that the romance was so obvious (or maybe I'm just psychic :D!). Really, though, that was a bit of a let down and, to me, wound up feeling a bit forced and thrown together.
I wasn't completely happy with some of the previous books, but Doomed With a View sucked me back in and I can't wait to start the next book. Toward the end, a pretty big plan was announced and I'm both nervous and excited to see how it turns out!
These books (& cozies in general!) are so incredible. So, so much fun and just the right length for a cold and rainy day.(less)
I've stopped and started writing this review so many times since finishing the book. I've paced back and forth all over the room and have burnt my tongue on countless cups of tea all the while staring at a blank screen and trying to think of the right words to say. This definitely is not a "meh, sure, it was pretty good" book. Not by a long shot. This book was, in a word, phenomenal.
I will admit that, before beginning the book, I was slightly biased. I have a huge interest in the Romanovs & Tsarist Russia, and given the period this book takes place, I knew I'd enjoy it at least somewhat. I didn't realize just how much I'd enjoy it, however.
Our family tree has roots and branches reaching all across Europe, from France to Russia, from Denmark to Greece, and in several transient and minute kingdoms and principalities in between. This tree is tangled with all the rest of Europe's royalty, and like many in that forest, my family tree is poisoned with a dark evil.
From the very first paragraph I was sucked in. I love the imagery those two sentences bring. And you know some shit is about to go down.
It was Friday afternoon and our lessons had been canceled at the Smolny Institute so everyone could prepare for the ball. Because dressing up like a doll was much more important than studying literature or learning arithmetic.
I. Loved. Katerina. Despite being born into a life of endless balls and socializing with royalty, she is determined to become a doctor. No, she doesn't want a hospital built in her honor, she wants to be the one discovering cures and healing wounds. She's so unlike the horde of overly cliche YA heroines we see today: she's funny and sarcastic and is so determined to reach her goals (women doctors were virtually unheard of in the world at that time - and were even outlawed in Russia - yet she still sent out multiple applications to universities to study medicine). The relationship she shared with her family (her father in particular) was a joy to read and such a breath of fresh air. She's extremely close with her cousin Dariya and I loved the scenes they shared.
Why must ghosts always be so ambiguous?
Katerina has a deep, dark secret. She has the ability to raise the dead. Russia at this point in history was all about the occult and mysticism (oh, hello, Rasputin). In high society, holding seances and consulting tarot cards was a popular hobby (even Katerina's mother took to reading her cards). Even though the paranormal was in vogue, Katerina despises her "gift" and made a promise to herself to never use her abilities.
However. And there's always a however. Katerina winds up reviving a moth at a ball one night in order to save a member of the imperial family. Immediately certain characters realize what she truly is: a necromancer.
There was secret knowledge to uncover in science. All romances ended exactly the same way: a girl realized the surly boy she had hated all along was the only person in the universe who could complete her soul. I did not believe for a minute that my soul could be completed by some surly boy.
Another aspect of The Gathering Storm that sets it apart from other YA series is the romance. You won't find any instalove here! And while the romance is given its time in the spotlight, the overall plot is more important. ♥ And I loved that. This is potentially spoiler-y, but there isn't a love triangle (YAY!). The buildup is perfect. There's certainly that spark of attraction when the two first meet, but they don't hit it off. At all. Overtime, however... so wonderful. & I was so, so, so conflicted at the end! They acknowledge their feelings for one another, share a single kiss (♥♥ oh how I squealed like a schoolgirl), and that's it for now.
Especially if she had seen the way Nicholas Alexandrovich looked at Princess Alix.
Oh my gosh, I LOVED all the cutesy cuteness that was Nicholas & Alix. The Gathering Storm shows the beginning of their romance and ♥~ Even though royal marriages were held mainly as a way of securing power or land, these two really loved and adored one another and I think that is so wonderful. (There's a book coming out on the 17th that I'm pretty excited about: Alix and Nicky: The Passion of the Last Tsar and Tsarina)
I highly suggest reading The Gathering Storm either with notebook in hand or with Wikipedia open. There are so many buildings, people, and events mentioned that I felt compelled to research.
The Gathering Storm was a fantastic debut and I absolutely cannot wait for more!
Xenia believed in love. George was old enough to understand that tsarevitchs were not allowed to marry for love. And neither were most grand dukes.
"Katerina, I am sure you handled the bandages expertly, buy you cannot practice medicine on the tsar's son!"
An afternoon spent solving quadratic equations would have been infinitely more pleasant. I smelled like a salad.
You know how there are certain authors who are practically deified their fans worship them so much? I'm not one to give in to hype - I've definitely been let down in the past. That said, guys. I wish someone would have given me a thorough shaking and forced Libba Bray upon me earlier. The Diviners was my first introduction to Ms. Bray and I can assure you it will not be the last.
Naughty John has come home. And he has work to do.
With an eerie childhood-lullaby-gone-wrong, John Hobbes announces his presence. It has been over fifty years since he was last among the living and he's ready to make up for lost time.
Meanwhile, in a tiny Ohio town, Evie O'Neill is eager to sprout wings and fly away. Her thoroughly modern ways are too much for the town and after a parlor trick exposes secrets, Evie finds herself on a train bound for New York to live with her uncle. Not that she minds of course. New York is far more her scene. She has big dreams and she certainly won't reach them back home in Zenith.
However, life isn't all fun and games for Evie and her friends. A string of gruesome murders happens and Evie's uncle finds himself in the midst of it all.
It's no secret I'm a HUGE fan of the 20s. The blog's name, after all, pays tribute to Gatsby! The Diviners sounded absolutely fantastic and it exceeded all expectations. The writing is flawless, the imagery and slang make you feel like you're actually there, and the horrors can feel all too real in the middle of the night.
"If you feel strongly about it-" "I do." "Then you may do what scholars do when they feel passionately about a subject." "What's that?" "You may visit the library," Will said.
There were a lot of characters in this book. Normally this leads to cardboard cutout, stock personalities. I'm overjoyed to say that is not the case with this book. Each character is beautifully fleshed out, from Evie and her Uncle Will all the way down to the minor characters who only show up for a few chapters. I really have to hand it to Ms. Bray: she knows what she's doing.
I was incredibly impressed with the explanation for how a dead man was able to return to life and continue his mission. A lesser author would have fallen flat on that one, but Libba Bray had an entirely believable story.
All the little shout-outs to things happening in the world at that time were great. The Fox sisters, the sudden popularity of Ouija boards, the Scopes Trial. Small things like that not only made me smile, but also showed Ms. Bray really did her research.
"Prohibition? I drink to its health whenever I can!"
The only thing about this book that bothered me was just how much Evie liked to drink. At times it seemed she was bordering on addiction. She accepts bribes of alcohol, and multiple times she goes on about how desperate she is for a drink. By the end of the story it seemed that this slowed a bit, but for that first half it felt as though all Evie thought about was gin.
I'm still a bit unsure of my feelings for Jericho's secret. The story behind it was fantastic, but I sort of feel as though the book strayed into steampunk territory. That said, he's still a wonderful character and I was left speechless at the end of the book.
Clocking in at nearly 600 pages, The Diviners is a lengthy book for any genre, let alone Young Adult, but I was captivated the entire time. I actually felt I read it a little too fast! This book could have been a few hundred more pages and I would have gladly gobbled it up.
If you still haven't yet read The Diviners, I urge you to do so. I absolutely loved this book and that cliffhanger of an ending will make the wait for the second book absolute torture.(less)
The Romanovs are a huge interest of mine and regardless of how many books come out with the same plot (one or more of the children survived and must be found) I will never tire of reading about it. I love it, I love it, I love it. So when I first heard about this book, I was ecstatic and couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy. Much to my surprise (and utter delight!) I received an ARC and immediately began reading.
"You are special, my darling. Different than other girls. You'll change our world one day."
Darya Borodina Spiridova is not like most girls. She has a certain gift, the ability to heal. Combine that with her odd eye - a cracked translucent opal - and you have the makings of a legend. Few people are able to look her in the eyes without terror and many people think of her as a witch. Her mother, Princess Sabrina, only sees her gifts as good and takes comfort knowing her daughter has a king of second sight.
From the very beginning I was a little disheartened. Nowhere in the summary did it mention The Last Romanov had paranormal elements (although I knew there would be at the very least some mysticism due to Grigori Rasputin). Unfortunately, paranormal is not a genre I enjoy and would have loved to have known what I was getting into before I started.
The story jumps through time a lot. With each chapter it seems. In 1991, Darya is 104 and somehow still looks young and vibrant and as though she hasn't aged a day (a day from what I'm not sure; it's never fully explained). She lives in the crumbling ruins of one of the imperial palaces and takes to wearing the Tsarina's old gowns.
Darya is a firm believer that one of the Romanov children, namely Alexei, survived that awful night and she's hellbent on finding him. A group formed for the purpose of restoring the monarchy has been formed and when they discover a living relative, Darya is brought in to determine whether or not the allegations are true. Darya would know better than anyone: after her parents were killed, the Tsarina offered Darya a place to live and she became the childrens' nanny.
The main bulk of the book takes place during the final years of Nicholas's reign. I loved reading the scenes with the family and the imagery of the opulence of the palace and the jewels was stunning. However, those moments were few and far between.
At one point the Tsarina decides to host a salon for Russia's most renowned artists. There were moments when this sub-plot was enjoyable to read about, but then Darya became involved with one of the artists and while romance would add to the plot, it seemed as though it went nowhere. The man was Jewish; their trysts had to be managed with the utmost secrecy! It should have been exciting, but fell flat for me. I felt more for her lover, particular at the end when Darya learned what became of him.
Rasputin's prophecy wasn't revealed until the latter half of the book and suddenly past lives come into play. Up until this point I was on the fence with the story, but when Darya has her flashback to 440BC, I had a hard time remaining interested.
In the end I came out wishing I had liked The Last Romanov far more than I actually did. Even though the settings and descriptions were gorgeous, the paranormal elements were a disappointment surprise.(less)
Before I started reading A Greyhound of a Girl, I had assumed it would be your average coming-of-age tale - and in many cases it is. What I wasn't expecting, however, was the supernatural element. Ha, and I really have no idea what that is; I suppose I wasn't paying attention when reading the summary?
A Greyhound of a Girl is the story of four women: Tansey (short for Anastasia), who died when she was just 25; Emer, Tansey's 80-year old daughter who was just three when Tansey passed away; Scarlett, Emer's daughter; and Mary, Scarlett's 12-year old daughter. Although Mary is the central character, the other three play equally vital roles and reading about each one - particularly Emer and Tansey - was a joy.
Mary's very best friend Ava just moved out of their neighbor and into another part of Dublin. Understandably, Mary is distraught until an odd woman suddenly 'moves in.' She looks young, but gives off the impression she's much older. Her speech and dress certainly give Mary pause, though she finds it comforting. After a few meetings, Mary discovers this is her grandmother's mother. A real ghost has come to visit.
Although Tansey never left her daughter's side, it is only now she feels the need to make her presence known. She knows her daughter's time is nearly up and wants to help her through. The moments with Tansey and Emer were absolutely lovely. In fact, the entire books could have been solely about them and I would have loved it!
A Greyhound of a Girl executes the multiple narrative flawlessly. I'm actually one of the oddballs who enjoys multi POVs. Unfortunately, not all authors handle this well, but Mr. Doyle did a superb job. Not only were there dual narratives, but these women lived during different eras. Definitely my favorite aspect of this book.
Where the novel lost points was in the characters' speech. I lost track of the number of times Mary said 'like.' Sometimes she said it more than once in a sentence! Also, 'so' and 'grand.' Scarlett quickly became my least favorite character and it was her manner of speaking that sealed the deal. Nearly every sentence ended with an exclamation point. There were a few instances where Mary pointed this out, and the dialogue looked like:
"What happened to the !!!s?" said Mary. "What?" "The !!!s" said Mary.
"Even your whispers end in !!!s" Mary whispered back.
It came to the point where I no longer found it cute or funny.
Overall, A Greyhound of a Girl is a sweet story about mothers and daughters that can easily be read in a single sitting.(less)
Princess Alyrra hails from a tiny little kingdom filled with lovely forests. Despite her royal status, Alyrra doesn’t exactly have the life of a princess. Her mother, the Queen, couldn’t care less about her daughter, and Alyrra’s brother is physically abusive. The only friends she has are the servants and her horse, Fleet Wind.
One day, the king from a neighboring kingdom shows up and Alyrra learns she is to wed Prince Kestrin, a man she has never met, and move to a land she has never seen (and learn an entirely new language). Naturally, she isn’t happy with this plan, but her troubles have only just started.
Along her journey to meet Kestrin, Alyrra ventures off into the woods with her companion, Valka (daughter of a lord and a girl who detests Alyrra and wants to seek revenge for something that happened when they were children). As they stop to get some water a rather nasty witch makes good on her pact with Valka. Suddenly Valka and Alyrra have switched bodies and now it is Valka (in Alyrra’s body) who will marry a prince while using her new-found status to cast Alyrra off as nothing more than a goose girl.
Thorn is less than 200 pages, yet there is so much that happens! Alyrra – who adopts the name Thorn – was an extremely likeable heroine, something I’ve unfortunately found lacking in most YA. Regardless of the punishments doled out to her, she doesn’t complain and works through her troubles. She decides to make the most of her new position in life and actually looks forward to getting a fresh start.
The secondary characters were all marvelous. Laurel, Violet, Falada, Red Hawk, there were tons and I adored every single one. What was such a joy to see what that they all had their own individual personality. At not point did I feel as though I was reading about some stock, cardboard character.
My only qualm with Thorn is that there are many questions I have left unanswered. There were people who showed up for a few scenes and then were never mentioned again. Certain magical elements left me a little confused. I would have liked to see a few things better explained or at least wrapped up nicely.
Shockingly enough, my other issue lies with the romance! This is NOT a case of insta-love, so that definitely received a thumbs up from me. However, after all Kestrin and Alyrra go through together – particularly that last battle! – it’s disappointing that there’s only a hug and one moment of hand-holding.
When all is said and done, Thorn is a very quick read and extremely entertaining!(less)
When Becca Chandler saves a fellow classmate getting beat up in the parking lot after school one day, her only thought was to help him. Unfortunately, her simple act of kindness dragged her into a world she never knew existed: the world of Elementals, people who are able to control the elements. And the world of people trained to kill them.
Storm is a novel that seems to be taking the YA world by, well, storm. To be honest, I was so turned off by the cover (there's something about it I find hideous and unprofessional), that I wasn't even going to bother with it, despite all the praise it's currently receiving.
A few days ago at work, I noticed we had a copy and curiosity got the better of me. It turned out Storm was exactly the book I hadn't realized I wanted to read. These past few weeks I've been on a bad streak with books and had been looking for something, though I couldn't put into words just what I was craving. Storm was just what I needed.
The first thing people discuss about Storm are the boys. The Merrick brothers (yes please!) are still trying to adjust to life after their parents' death. The oldest, Michael, has taken on the role of parent while still trying to be a brother and he comes off as overbearing and overprotective. He cares about his brothers and knows that, unless he keeps them in line, he'll lose custody.
Gabriel and Nick are twins and huge playboys. It's not unusual for them to bring a different girl home every night. They're gorgeous and they know it. Unfortunately, they also have a penchant to getting into fights.
Chris, the youngest, was adorable. Storm alternates between his POV and Becca's and seeing things from his perspective allowed me to get to know him and discover his true feelings. I adored this boy and my heart broke for him so many times throughout the novel.
The last boy (and, because this is YA, other love interest) is Hunter. He's a mysterious new student who doesn't care about the rumors Becca's ex has spread.
The pacing is blindingly fast - there honestly wasn't a moment where I was bored - and the chapters are all extremely short, so reading it was a breeze. However, the book is not without its faults.
Becca's ex-boyfriend Drew has been spreading rumors about Becca and by the end of the novel, I wasn't sure who was really to blame. Becca was the one who got drunk at that party and she even admitted she wanted to make out with all of his friends. It wasn't until she was nearly gang-raped that she wanted out. Now the whole school believes she's slept with the entire soccer team and she has to put up with their daily tormenting.
I was completely taken back when she practically threw herself at Hunter the first night he stayed at her house. & the whole party with Drew? That was only a mere SIX WEEKS before! I had assumed it was the previous school year or at the very least a few months ago. But, no. Just a few weeks. And now here she is, throwing herself at a boy she's only just met while trying to figure out whether or not she likes Chris.
Despite this huge annoyance, I really enjoyed the book. Yay for having a best friend (though by the end of the book I was a little fed up with Quinn) and I liked Becca's mom. It was pretty obvious who the bad guy was, but overall I liked Storm. (less)
Even though this book has all the makings of a paranormal romance novel - hello, living woman from the present and dead man from the 1860s fall in love - it doesn't read like one. In fact, if it weren't for the constant reminders Tristan's dead, Spirit of the Rebellion could easily be hailed as a regular ol' romance novel.
I'll keep this one short and sweet: our two main characters, Shae and Tristan, meet when Shae takes a position translating Civil War documents. She moves back to the United States (she had been living in Norway for the few years prior) and is given temporary residence at the Starling Plantation.
It's no secret Starling is home to multiple spirits. People don't enjoy spending time there and anyone who attempts to settle in has been driven out quite forcefully by a particular spirit. Unfortunately for him, Shae is as stubborn as they come and having papers scattered about her desk isn't nearly enough to scare her off.
As Shae comes to know the spirits (I loved how she introduces them to modern technology - they have movie nights, for example, and 12-year old Timothy is particularly intrigued by Lord of the Rings), she uncovers the truth regarding Tristan's past and the cause of his death. History branded him a traitor and as she translates documents, she discovers what really happened.
I have an extremely large interest in the Civil War and was eager to read this novel. Its faults are few and the writing is gripping. The story moves very quickly and the chapters are all fairly short (around 10-ish pages). Unfortunately for me, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. lol multiples times I fell for the trap of "I'll only read one more chapter!" and, because the chapters are so short, wound up sneaking a couple more in. Before I knew it I was halfway into the book!
Somebody killed my father. I don't know who did it or why, but I'm going to find them.
I'm a girl.
I'm a witch.
I'm a Shadowcull.
Someone is going to pay.
I went into this book fairly blind - I had never read any book by Sean Cummings prior to Poltergeeks nor was I a big paranormal reader. The plot intrigued me and having a strong mother-daughter relationship was a definite plus. Now that I've read it, I'm glad I took that chance.
Julie Richardson is your average 15-year old. Except for the fact that she's a witch. And can see spirits. Her best friend Marcus is her constant companion and one of the few people who knows what Julie truly is.
What initially seems like a typical poltergeist turns out to be far more menacing. An attack on her school has left Julie shaken and her mother in the hospital comatose and under a powerful (and fatal) spell. In an attempt to save her mother's life, Julie makes a deal with an immortal and with the help of her guardian and some friendly advice from the spirit of her father, Julie prepares to face down her demons. Literally.
Poltergeeks is a fairly short book that can easily be read in an afternoon. It was a pretty average read - nothing horrible, but nothing remarkable - and there was a cute romance (and no love triangle!). Unfortunately, I felt the Big Reveal was a bit of a letdown and more than once I was confused and not quite sure what was going on or why the villain did what they did.
It doesn't seem like Poltergeeks will be a series, but the ending is written in such a way that it's certainly possible.
Over the course of the novel, the writing style seemed much more suited to a Middle Grade novel, yet there's quite a bit of profanity thrown about. Originally I would have definitely said Poltergeeks would be right at home with 10-ish year olds (mainly due to the writing style), but once multiple f-bombs were dropped, I reconsidered.
Fans of paranormal YA will most likely enjoy Poltergeeks. There's nothing mind-blowing about this novel, but it's a quick, enjoyable ride nonetheless.(less)
They said it when they were wishing for crops not to fail and storms to pass, but she realized now she'd heard her mother say it when something happened to scare her, as if to reassure herself: The Lynburns are gone.
Kami Glass has lived in the tiny English village of Sorry-in-the-Vale her entire life and has grown up hearing tales of the Lynburns. One family loomed over the town, creating laws - and enforcing them. Though Aurimere Manor now stands silent and empty on the hill, the family's presence can still be felt and the family is just as feared.
Apart from hearing these stories since childhood, Kami has also heard a voice. A boy's voice. Jared has been her imaginary friend for as long as she can recall and she still continues to speak to him even though she's well past the age where having an imaginary friend is acceptable.
Her world turns upside-down the day the Lynburns return. Regal Lillian Lynburn is the heir to the legacy and she's brought her family with her: her husband Rob and son Ash, and her sister Rosalind and Rosalind's son Jared. Suddenly Kami isn't so sure her imaginary friend is only in her head.
Sorry-in-the-Vale's records date back to the 1400s. Six hundred years do not go by without someone doing something nefarious.
I couldn't wait to jump right in and adore Unspoken. Everyone seems to be obsessing over it and it definitely has all the makings of a book I'd love: ancient family, dark secrets, a quiet town.
I tore through the first half of this book. I loved everything about it! The premise was phenomenal, the writing is stunning, the local legends gave me chills, and the characters - with the exception of Angela - were wonderfully done. Even the backstory was done in a way that didn't feel like a massive infodump.
Jared's appearance came as no surprise, though I still have no idea what his issue was with touching. Even when he was protecting Kami he would barely touch her and his avoidance of contact was never explained. That said, save for a few minor problems, Kami & Jared's dynamic was great. It was an interesting, new take on the genre and I ate it up.
"Put the jerk in the south wing, you won't see him for weeks at a time. Or lock him in the attic. The law will not be on your side, but literary precedent will."
A lot of reviews have mentioned the humor in Unspoken and while I enjoyed it, I felt it could have been toned down a lot. Particularly Kami's father. I liked his character, but did he ever say anything that wasn't a witty one-liner? Even when he walked into Kami's bedroom one morning and found both Kami and Jared asleep in bed, the only thing he had to say was some wisecrack.
Unfortunately, around the halfway mark, Unspoken really started to lose steam. Oddly enough this was right around the time when Things Started Happening. A classmate was murdered (and was never really brought up again), and the secret of the Lynburns' is finally revealed. All of this should have kept me on the edge of me seat. Although I still plowed though, I definitely did not do so with the same fervor I had in the beginning.
The other families say, 'My way or the highway.' The Lynburns said, "I am unfamiliar with the concept of the highway, so that leaves you with only one choice.'
So much was happening by the end: the will-they-or-won't-they angle, a huge fight scene, Kami's life-altering decision, Angela's secret. Everything was happening so fast and the sudden stop at the end - and I do mean sudden (that was so NOT a cliffhanger, that was right in the middle of the scene!) - that it got to be a little jarring. There were so many questions left unanswered, particularly in regards to Kami and Jared, that I feel a little cheated. I want that sense of closure. Yes, there's another book coming out, but even in a series novels should wrap up nicely enough that reads aren't left in a state of confusion and frustration.
I hate that I'm in the minority with this one, guys. I really, really do. I loved the idea for Unspoken and the beginning was FANTASTIC. I'll be reading the next book when it comes out, but I don't think I'll be giving in to the hype next time.(less)
When Kira was just ten year old she saved her cousin, Prince Taejo, from a demon and since then she has been Taejo's personal bodyguard. Unfortunately, her reputation and golden eyes have not made her popular among the kingdom's citizens. It's no secret they're disgusted by and frightened of her; behind her back she's referred to as Demon Slayer.
When the King is brutally murdered in front of his family, Kira, Taejo, and a swarm of guards flee the city in search of three sacred items named in an ancient prophecy in the hopes of protecting those they love and saving the kingdom from the Demon King.
I was really looking forward to Prophecy. It sounded totally kickass and I was extremely intrigued by the Korean influence. The author definitely did her research and it shows. Also, she's definitely not afraid to kill off characters - seriously, don't become attached to anyone! Sadly, that's where my praise falters.
Let's start with the characters. 12-year old Prince Taejo and his dog Jindo were the most likeable, along with a handful of monks met along the way. Everyone else came across as your basic stock personalities: there were Bad Guys, a Mysteriously Vague Old Monk (described as - and named!! - Master Roshi), Noble Captain, I could go on and on. Those that weren't cardboard cutouts were so thinly written that I couldn't get a feel for the character (Seung, for instance).
Jaewon and Shin Bo Hyun are the Love Interests in a romance that really didn't go anywhere (I'm assuming it'll come to light in the following books). Kira is betrothed to Bo Hyun and, let's face it, he's kind of a jerk. But a jerk that truly does like her...? The author made it seem that way, along with hints of attraction on Kira's end, but again, I couldn't get a real feel for it. I did enjoy Jaewon however. He's got a decent backstory in a novel where backstories were either quickly presented or forgotten altogether. That said, his attitude towards Kira (multiple times he mentioned he'd do anything she'd ask/go anywhere she said) bordered on obsessive and was downright confusing. Why was he so willing to follow her? They had only had one conversation by the time he began saying these things. I didn't get it.
Prophecy followed your typical Fantasy Novel model perfectly, right down to it's title. There's a prophecy, sacred objects that give the possessor unimaginable power, a quest to find those objects, an evil (in this case, demon) king who wants that power for his own, etc etc. There wasn't much about Prophecy that was original, but for some strange reason I did enjoy it. The writing was very quick and easy and I noticed this was a dialogue-driven story. So much dialogue.
Despite a relatively harsh review, I had a good time reading Prophecy. Hardcore fans of the genre might want to check it out, but if you're looking for a unique story, I'd suggest looking elsewhere. Also, for a book targeted toward teens, the writing was extremely simple and could have easily been in a book written for a much younger crowd.(less)
Sixteen-year old (almost seventeen, thank you very much) Lori Chase has just made the move from a swanky hotel in Philadelphia to history-obsessed Gettsyburg, PA. Her brother is stationed in Ghana and her parents thought it would be fun to renovate a Bed & Breakfast. Once July rolls around, business is booming: spectators and reenactors alike flock to the town for the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. For three days 1863 is alive and well: the townsfolk are decked out in giant hoop-skirts and Union blues and replica rifles send the scent of gunpowder into the air.
Lori is less than enthused with her new home - until the night she captures a ghost on film. A Skype session with her brother must have been all-too tempting for the young soldier, for an image appeared on the screen. Lori wasn't alone in her bedroom. After a few more encounters with the boy, Lori learns his name is Nathaniel Pierce. He grew up in Punxsutawney and enlisted as a member of the 93rd Pennsylvania regiment when he was nineteen. He shocks Lori by sharing with her the true nature of his death: it wasn't the battle that killed him. He's convinced he was murdered and needs her help solving the mystery. Unfortunately, he only has three days - once July 3 comes, the reenactors will pack their things and Nathaniel will depart as well.
Okay, guys. It's SO not a secret that the Civil War holds a special place in my heart. I've gone to Gettysburg multiple times - yay for only living a few hours away! - so right off the bat this book and I got along well. Allow me to fly my bias flag: if a book deals with any of the battles (particularly Gettysburg), you can bet I'll be reading it. It's one of my things. A YA dealing with a Civil War soldier and his suspicious death? SIGN ME UP!
When I read, I'm constantly doing research or googling certain figures/events/paintings/what have you. In Rebel Spirits a great deal of the novel was devoted to the Kalunga Line, something I had never heard of before! Basically, it comes from certain religions in the Congo and refers to a 'line' stretching across the Atlantic Ocean that was the path between the world of the living and that of the dead. I'm all about stuff like this and absolutely loved its inclusion in the book.
As for the characters, there were quite a few, but they were fun and well-developed. Lori's parents are ever present and that was a refreshing change from the usual absentee parenting typically found in YA. Nathaniel was a sweetheart, but I just couldn't get into the romance aspect. Over the course of three days the two only met a handful of times for a few minutes at most. Yet somehow they fell in love. Sorry, but no. It was cute when Lori tried to explain modern technology and I easily could have accepted a friendship, but more...? I'll admit I delighted in Lori's dad calling her out on her insta-love!
Any reader of historical fiction knows research can make or break a novel. There were a few things Nathaniel didn't know about that would have existed during his day. Punxsutawney Phil/Groundhog Day as we know it didn't officially begin until the 1880s, yet it's origins go back to Celtic tribes and Germany's Candlemas Day. I suppose that could be splitting hairs, since Groundhog Day wasn't a part of American tradition until German settlers came over in the 1880s, but it's certainly been around for quite some time. Anything thing unknown to Nathaniel was the word cahoots. Unfortunately, a quick google search shows this word first entered the English language in the 1820s - 40 years before Nathaniel's death.
Apart from a few tiny issues, I had a lot of fun with Rebel Spirits. I'd say the mystery was more Middle Grade in nature - it's pretty obvious from the start who the bad guys were - but I was able to overlook it and go with the story. If you enjoy Civil War settings, or want a fun story to entertain you for an afternoon, pick up a copy of Rebel Spirits.(less)
I who had never been haunted, who had been skeptical of visitations, suddenly accepted all possibilities. Or as a priest would say, in that moment, I allowed the devil into my life. But the priest would be wrong. I did more than allow him in. I gave the devil a warm hearth and a hospitable place to rest for as long as he wanted one. I gave him access to my very soul.
Prior to receiving Seduction, I was unaware it was the fifth book in a series. While I was able to follow along with little difficulty, I feel I would have understood much more had I read the other books first. Also, from the summary I had expected a book along the lines of Katherine Howe's The House of Velvet and Glass (read my 5-star review here!). THoVaG deals with seances and reconnecting with loved ones who drowned during Titanic's sinking. It was one of my top picks of 2012 and Sedeuction sounded as though it was going to have a similar feel. Also: Victor Hugo!
Unfortunately I got another City of Dark Magic (read my 3-star review here) - strange obsession with noses and smells included!
Jac L’Etoile comes from a line of French perfumers. She also comes from a family with a firm belief in reincarnation - and that certain smells could evoke memories of past lives. After discovering her mother's corpse when she was fourteen, Jac was sent to a very New Age-y school where she met a boy named Theo. Over time the two came to be close until the night of Jac's accident. When she came to, she had no memories of the event and no explanation as to why Theo was sent away.
Seventeen years later she's reunited with Theo after receiving a letter about the discovering of a possible Druid site. Again the better judgment of those around her, Jac accepts Theo's invitation and heads for the UK where she will not only put her mythological studies to use, but finally find some answers.
150 years earlier, Victor Hugo walked along the beaches in exile. After the devastating loss of his daughter, he partakes in a seance - hoping to communicate with his daughter - and falls into obsession. He's received messages from a number of spirits, but one night a mysterious Shadow of the Sepulcher comes through and his offer to restore Victor's daughter is too tempting to ignore.
Seduction. Where to begin? I think this is a case of each individual part being great, but the combined whole is lackluster. The main components of this novel: reincarnation, Druids, Victor Hugo, seances, these are completely suited to my interests. This should be a good I can't put down. Sadly, it just didn't work for me and I struggled to finish. More than once I was tempted to set it down once and for all, but I kept going, hoping there would be that AH-HA! moment when everything would come together and suck me in.
I don't know if it's because I hadn't read the previous books in the series. Perhaps if I had I would have come to better understand and care about these characters and what they're doing. Instead I'm left with nearly 400 pages of so. much. telling. and confusing decisions. One thing the book had going for it was its dual narrative. I love me some dual narration. Late in the novel a third storyline was introduced - this one taking place millennia ago and focused on a Druid priest and his family. Interesting, yes, but it came far too late in the book to have much of an impression.
It was no surprise Jac's hallucinations were actually past life memories, but when it was revealed they weren't her memories, I had to roll my eyes. The novel had been steadily declining and that scene was where I had had enough. It was a struggle to continue, but continue I did and when I finally finished it was as though a weight had been lifted. The strange love-square-that-went-nowhere frustrated me as well.
In the end, Seduction didn't turn out to be the novel I had hoped. It appears I'm in the minority though, as it's been receiving quite a bit of praise. I had been curious about this series for a while and even had the books on my To Read list. Sadly, I'll be removing them and won't be reading anymore of this series.(less)
People jog at dawn for a reason. If they wait, their brains will wake up and convince them there are things they'd rather do. Like have oral surgery.
The first book in the series, Royal Street was something I picked up on a whim. I'm a total sucker for pretty covers and, although I'm not a big fan of the genre, paranormal/urban fantasy tends to have SUPER SHINY OH-SO-PRETTY covers.
To my complete surprise, I loved it. Much to my delight I didn't have to wait long at all for the sequel - less than a year! Guys, I'm extremely pleased to announce River Road does NOT suffer from Middle Book Syndrome. In fact, I'll go so far as to say it's even better than its predecessor!
River Road takes place three years after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans in Royal Street. I was a bit surprised by the time lapse (I'm not used to such large gaps between books!), but from the very first page the book is off running.
If you're new to the series, Drusilla Jaco - DJ - is a Green Congress wizard, meaning that while she can do magic, her abilities are limited. Alex Warin, shape-shifter extraordinaire is her ex-enforcer partner and his cousin Jake is a recently-turned loup-garou: the biggest, baddest breed of werewolf. Add in the centuries-old undead pirate Jean Lafitte and you're set. Especially when all three men are unsure of their feelings for DJ (just as she's equally unsure of her own feelings for them).
Jean Lafitte informs DJ of an odd illness afflicting mermaid clans and upon investigating, two bodies of Green Congress wizards are discovered. It's up to DJ and crew to find out what's going on and just who is behind the attacks.
The plaque on the enormous clock claimed it has been hand-carved of mahogany in 1909, about 130 years after the birth of the undead pirate waiting for me upstairs. They were both quite handsome, but the clock was a lot safer.
Needless to say, I love this series. With the first book, I was a little worried about how the author would handle Katrina's aftermath. After reading, I realized I had nothing to worry about: Suzanne Johnson took a painful subject still fresh in mind and approached it delicately and respectfully. River Road is no different: New Orleans is still struggling to regain its footing and Johnson tells it like it is. No sugar-coating here, folks.
River Road introduces a few new species (mers, nymphs) and I loved getting to know them! That said, even though there are plenty of new characters, all the old ones get plenty of screen time, so to speak. I especially enjoyed Jean's scenes (I'm totally Team Lafitte, by the way!) and absolutely cannot wait to see him again!
Having three super-hot, though not exactly human, love interests might seem like overkill, but I loved it. Jean Lafitte, eternal flirt and gentleman, seems to genuinely care for DJ; Jake has made no secret of his feelings, though his inability to control his loup-garou form makes him hesitant; and Alex is definitely changing their "we're-much-better-as-friends" relationship. I loved seeing the interactions with each guy and I actually GASPED at that final paragraph! Oh man. Talk about an ending!
Guys, seriously. If you're looking for a fun, funny urban fantasy, look no further!(less)
"Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures."
There are very few things that can compel me to move a book - especially one clocking in at nearly 600 pages - to the top of my To Read list, but I'm a total sucker for Jeremy Irons. Naturally I had heard of this series and even went so far as to include it in my list of series to read in 2013. A few months ago I saw the movie trailer and thought it looked interesting and a few days ago saw it again while Matt & I saw The Hobbit. A second dose of Mr. Irons was more than I could handle and I promptly went to my library and checked out the first book.
Going into this series I knew nothing about the story. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Imagine my surprise when it relies heavily on a Civil War-era plot! (The Civil War was my area of focus in school and any book about the War - fiction or non-fiction - is a must-read for me). Add in multiple references to To Kill a Mockingbird and you've got yourself a triple whammy.
There wasn't much we wanted to know about any town but our own, and if your granddaddy or great-granddaddy couldn't tell you, chances were you didn't need to know.
Beautiful Creatures was a delight to read for the simple fact that the narrator was a boy. Ethan Ware, sixteen, one of the star players on his high school basketball team. I was overjoyed at a male perspective, although the more I read, the more I realized that the only things separating his POV from the countless female protagonists in YA were the pronouns. Once the action started and especially once the romance began developing, Ethan could have easily been any female MC. He just didn't sound like a 16-year old boy. That said, I liked him.
Ethan lives in the tiny town of Gatlin, famous for its buttermilk pie and a Civil War battle. The previous year his mother died in a car accident and since then his father has been shut inside his study, still too hurt to return to his old life. Amma, Ethan's nanny? housekeeper? practically raised him and I enjoyed her immensely.
"Harlon James's been injured, and I'm not convinced he ain't about ta pass over." She whispered the last two words like God Himself might be listening, and she was afraid to give Him any ideas. Harlon James was Aunt Prudence's Yorkshire terrier, named after her most recent late husband.
Gatlin is a town very set in its ways. It's a town where everyone knows everyone and has for generations. There is a DAR group as well as the Sisters of the Confederacy and the famed Southern hospitality is alive and well.
One day a new girl arrives to the town and immediately her name is on everyone's lips. Lena Duchannes. Macon Ravenwood's niece. Despite the Ravenwood being the founding family of Gatlin, the residents still treat Lena as a complete outsider and her taste in black clothing doesn't help matters.
Of course Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and the two discover they can communicate telepathically, which instantly brought to mind Kami and Jared's relationship in Unspoken. What Ethan doesn't know is that Lena is a Caster - a witch - and on her sixteenth birthday she'll be forced to take part in a Claiming ceremony where her future will either be one filled with Light or Dark.
Macon Melchizedek Ravenwood was the town shut-in. Let's just say, I remembered enough of To Kill a Mockingbird to know Old Man Ravenwood made Boo Radley look like a social butterfly.
Other reviewers make mention of the abundance of Southern stereotypes, but I didn't see Beautiful Creatures that way. I was thoroughly sucked in and tore through this massive book in just a few days, which is really saying something, considering the time it usually takes me to read and factoring in the holidays. I absolutely enjoyed this book and can't believe it took me this long to read it.
I'll admit that toward the end the plot lost a bit of its steam and started throwing in plot twist after plot twist, ultimately leaving me with more questions than answers (so what really did happen to Ethan's mom?). I'm hoping these loose ends will be tied up in the following books.
As you all know by now, I'm a BIG fan of dual narratives. Ethan and Lena's story was intertwined with the story of a Confederate soldier and the Caster girl he loved and although theirs was only told through flashbacks I adored it.
I had spent so many hours in it as a kid, I'd inherited my mother's belief that a library was sort of a temple.
While Beautiful Creatures did have its flaws (hello, super-insta-love!), I wholeheartedly, absolutely, utterly loved it. It got to the point where I stayed up well past a reasonable hour just to keep reading. I'd reward myself after doing housework by reading a chapter or two.
Its enormous size could definitely have been shed a couple hundred pages and the deus ex machina ending made me roll my eyes, but I savored every moment and there's no doubt in my mind I'll be continuing the series.(less)
I wanted monsters. Instead I got an 18 year-old sex god and a deer with a limp.
Broken was hailed as a fresh, new retelling of Frankenstein. That alone was enough to command my attention. I'm a huge sucker for retellings and they're certainly in abundance these days. That there was a Frankenstein retelling... I couldn't pass it up.
Unfortunately Broken is a classic example of an intriguing idea with a horrible execution (something I've dubbed the Matthew Pearl effect). Broken is a typical YA romance - awful poetics (and the fastest case of insta-love I've ever seen) included.
A few short months ago Emma Gentry lost her boyfriend Daniel in a horrific accident. Since then she's retreated into herself, sleeping in his hoodie every. single. night. and hanging out at the local cemetery where she feels his presence. Emma's haunted by his memory and when she closes her eyes all she can see is Daniel's broken, bloody body.
All of that changes when a new boy, Alex Franks, shows up at school. There's something familiar about him and his mannerisms that Emma can't quite shake. Why does he remind her so much of Daniel? Why does he call her by the nickname Daniel gave her?
Ugh. Really, that's all I have to say. Broken was one steaming pile of meh. Emma stubbornly refuses to let go of Daniel until Alex shows up. Naturally he's got a jawline to die for and amazing cheekbones. And don't forget that brooding, mysterious aura! I wonder if the author has ever read Frankenstein. But of course she has! Alex has scars all over his body, guys. See how wretched and horrifying he is?? Not at all. In fact, Emma muses - multiple times - over those scars and how hot they are.
Emma is a typical girl who sits at the Theater Nerds lunch table. For the life of me I couldn't figure out why she was the sole piece of gossip. She wasn't a popular cheerleader, but she also wasn't a part of the out crowd. Somehow there's a new rumor about her everyday and I just didn't get it.
The fact that Alex's last name is FRANKS, his father is a crazed doctor, and the high school is SHELLEY HIGH never raised an eyebrow. For an English project, Emma has to read Dracula and other classic gothic novels. If those books exist in this world, wouldn't Frankenstein exist as well?
I could go on and on with my list of grievances: Emma only loves Alex because Daniel is a part of him, certain elements are introduced (Alex's ex-girlfriend, for instance) only to never be discussed again, etc etc.
I'll admit that at the very end I was interested. All the talk about memory fusion in tissue was great. Sadly, by that point, I was reading Broken just to finish. I don't think I could have handled one more page detailing Emma's school day - including a play-by-play of each class - or her on-going text conversations.
When all is said and done, Broken is 250 pages of overly dramatic high school days (and don't forget the coffee shop!) with a few chapters that were relatively interesting. If you're looking for a creepy monster tale, look elsewhere.(less)